Golden End

ricky-rew-v3Vt8RrwT18-unsplash

Santo Tomas, Spain (Ricky Rew on Unsplash)

 

It was a golden end.

To the day. To their journey. To what they managed to do together, for the first time in a long time without bitter exchanges that gouged their hearts and left them both scarred.

The trip to Santo Tomas was an impromptu thing. The healing they’d invested in was not.

“We could go, you know,” he’d mentioned as she’d browsed to pass the time while waiting outside the therapist’s office. It was always an awkward time, sitting together in the ante room, aware that what came next was lancing boils and airing out things too noxious to attempt alone.

“Can we, though?” she’d replied, layering many meanings.

“I think so,” he’d said.

His hesitation, more than anything, was what had her agree.

The therapist’s hesitation, too. She wanted to prove the woman wrong.

She watched him jog by sun-glow. Her heart warmed. They were going home.

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Santo Tomás

 

 

 

 

Backdrop

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

They were cold to the bone, but it did not matter once the light broke out to illuminate the edge of clouds.

“We’ll be home soon,” he breathed into her neck.

“I know,” she whispered, her teeth no longer chattering. She’d stopped feeling her toes so long ago she almost forgot she had ones.

It would have worried her, in the past. The risk of frostbite. Amputation. Loss of the ability to walk.

Not anymore.

They were beyond all these things now.

They were going home.

For the rest of time.

“How long?” she asked, fretting a bit in spite of herself. She never found transitions as easy as he had. Especially such big ones. Especially those that were irreversible.

“Soon,” his voice was barely audible but she felt it reverberate through her chest. The finality of it.

The knowledge.

His strength.

She sighed, and though he did not move she knew that he was smiling.

Another moment passed. Or perhaps it was an hour. She’d lost track of time now that it made no difference.

As her body chilled, her eyes stayed focused on the shimmering curtain of light. Its movement became the backdrop to the last views she will ever have of Earth.

Before it neared enough to carry them.

Home.

For all the eras yet to come.

 

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo Challenge

 

 

The Farm

weston-mackinnon-nl4t7NlIurc-unsplash

Photo: Weston MacKinnon on Unsplash; Saskatchewan, Canada

 

“Look Papa!” the boy’s voice rose in excitement.

“I see,” the man replied. His deep voice resonated in the small space.

“You didn’t even move your head,” the young eyes narrowed in suspicion.

“I did not need to.”

The child exhaled and shook his head and the movement reminded the man of a yearling. Impatiently straining at the edge of youth, eager to race headlong into life.

The man eased the pressure on the pedal and moved his foot to the other, stopping the car.

“I am looking now,” he smiled. “Thank you, Son.”

The boy’s eyebrows rose but he asked nothing. They watched the buffalo together, the sun and field and beasts a golden-brown.

“Is this their farm?” the boy finally asked.

“It is their home,” the man replied. “The farm came to live on it.”

The boy nodded, his ancestors evident in his soulful eyes. “They are like us.”

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw

 

 

Halfway Home

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

She never grew tired of it.

Even if fatigue had become part and parcel of her every day. Of her very breath.

It did not matter. Her fatigue didn’t, that is. At least, it did not matter as much as it would have otherwise. As much as she knew it could. As much as it had in the other place, where there was naught but white walls and white squeaky soles on squeaky clean tiles and antiseptic air and officious hands and flickering images on a screen where well-dressed persons babbled about things that did not feel relevant to her in the least.

They’d urged her not to leave.

She left.

No regrets.

Not when the trade-off was brisk air and the smell of just-trampled grass and the scent of rain and the open vistas of the world rolling down into the horizon where the sun met the mountains and the sky kissed the ground.

No regrets.

Not with the play of night and day around her, not with light that flickering on her covers and the sun licking her fingers as she lay in bed. Not with a world that breathed and changed and lived and died and reemerged. With yips of puppies racing down the lawn. The hiss of wind. The chirps of birds.

Sure, others were concerned, or so they said.

She did not share their dread.

Death did not scare her. Nor did the warnings that she’d be too far from hospital to get assistance in time if another crisis came. For a crisis was bound to come, and when it did, she knew she’d be content to face it with her face to the hills and her eyes on the valleys and the snow-capped mountains where her soul would soon roam.

For she was halfway home.

More than half, perhaps, now that most of the sand in her hourglass had been shed.

It did not matter.

She was halfway home, content with whatever lay ahead.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge

 

Going to Avalanche

P1030409_resize

Photo: Keith Channing

 

The sky was blue when they headed out. Crisp, cold, dry, and sunny, it was the perfect day for some easy back-country skiing.

They planned to be home by lunch.

They did not plan on the weather turning. On clouds so low and so fast that they’d reached zero visibility in almost no time at all.

Joshua could see that Daniel was two steps away from panic. That would not do. Not with the children with them.

“Take the rear,”  Joshua ordered.

If Daniel frowned at his bossy tone, the heavy fog covered it. Joshua stood his ground, literally, till Daniel maneuvered his skis so he was behind the two youngest. Good enough.

Joshua took a breath and tried to get a read from the weather. It was probably best to shelter in place till the fog lifted, but if the weather was about to get worse, it was better they got back before conditions deteriorated further.

There was no way to know for sure, but his gut’s tightening signaled that the latter option was the one to take. His hand tightened around the compass hanging from his pocket. He’d need it.

“Mark! Sally!” he cupped his hands and called for the two older children who, true to form, used any break in skiing for a snowball fight. The wind snatched his voice and he realized that it, too, had gotten worse in the last few minutes.

“Daniel, get them!” he shouted. “Timmy, Ronny, Sid, and Shirley, stay close to me.”

Shirley nodded and clung to his arm. “Are we going to Avalanche?” her voice shook.

“Avalanche isn’t a place, honey,” he replied over the thunder in his chest. “It’s when a lot of snow slides down the mountain. We’re not in an avalanche zone, so you don’t need to worry.”

“But it’s all white,” she sniffled, “and I’m cold.”

“I know, little one. The weather turned on us. We’ll get everyone in line and we’ll get moving and you’ll soon get warm. Timmy, Ron, and Sid, you okay back there?”

The boys nodded unconvincingly.

Daniel herded Mark and Sally closer to the rest and sandwiched them between the younger children and himself.

“Let’s go!” Joshua yelled, his voice barely audible in the whistling wind. “Keep your eyes on the person in front of you. Daniel, use your whistle if you need help.”

Daniel lifted his ski in response.

Joshua concentrated on the compass, on the next few steps. Everything he loved in this world was behind him. The white settled all around and he felt small. Like when he was ten and the world had come down around him in a tumble.

He shook the memory away.

This time he was not going to Avalanche.

He was going to get them — all of them — home.

 

 

 

For Kreative Kue 239

 

 

The Essentials

 

Finally.

She shrugged her pack off and lowered herself so her back rested against a tree, blessing — for the umpteenth time — the waterproofs she’d splurged on several years ago.  The purchase had meant giving up puddings for two months, but she’d never regretted the trade-off.

Food was essential, but so was heeding nature’s call for spending time in the outdoors. It was required nourishment for her soul.

In any weather, no matter damp or cold.

Soon she’d make the tent, gather wood, and light a fire to cook her oats on. But first she just sat, filling her lungs with air and her mind with calm contentment.

Raised in the city, she didn’t know how hungry she was for the outdoors until friends invited them to join a camping trip. She was ten.

Her parents hated every minute of it. For her, it had been like finally finding home.

 

 

 

For Crimson’s Creative Challenge #52

 

Uduru’s Sudan

sudan-2895726_1920

Sudan, Khartoum (Photo: Amma Hareib on Pixabay)

 

Uduro held her head high, the wrapped money tucked securely in a fold of her clothing. Only a small amount was in the beaded purse. No need to give pickpockets reason to try and outsmart her. She knew better than most.

The market’s alleys welcomed her, coolly shaded under the roof. The dimmer light was soothing. She inhaled, sated. Shoes. Spices. Food. Clothing. Utensils. Leather goods. Whatever she needed could be hers. She walked slowly as befitting her status, her back straight with pride.

She was back.

No longer the barefooted street urchin, begging for leftovers, scurrying from grabby hands while carrying favors for a scrap and a slap.

She was now the wife of a man who owned three stalls on the Souk’s main road. And a whole house. She was the mother of a boy who was never hungry. Umm Faheem, they called her now, in Uduro’s Sudan.

 

 

 

For the What Pegman Saw challenge: Sudan

 

Set The Sun

sunset wonderland CA NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

Set the sun

Gently behind the loops

Of the day.

Behind the curves and the slopes

That turned your world

Inside out

And your plans

Upside down

And away.

Spread your wings

And head home

To where nestlings

Await

And the feathers of evening

Welcome you

At the gate.

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Sunset

 

 

Driving Mrs. Mama

Photo prompt: © Linda Kreger 

 

“Hope the driver remembers.” Ella fretted.

Lynn shrugged. “He’ll have to run us over if he forgot.”

“You two, line up already and stop the chatter!”

“Shush, Jerry! Let us cherish the fruits of our labor.”

Your labor?! Who manned the table saw and has more splinters than a cactus?”

“Poor Bearded Baby … I sanded them all! Quiet, here she comes!”

The van stopped at the cul-de-sac. The driver walked around to the rear and wheeled Mama down.

“Welcome home, Mama Jean!”

“Hey, Ella, ditch the camera! No slackers till the Driving Mrs. Mama Home Train clears the ramp!”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

 

In A Moment

Photo Prompt © Ted Strutz

 

She sat with her nose glued to the window, ignoring the roar of the engines and the bawdy chatter in her headphones.

It was cloudy when they’d taken off, with only little visibility. Now miles of forests stretched in all directions, the greenery as dense and impenetrable as her father’s face the last time she’d seen him, brooding and taciturn even by his own standards.

A glint of water sparkled in the distance and the pilot banked to the right to circle toward the lake. Suddenly she could not breathe.

It’s been a long ten years.

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers